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July 2013

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25 TO 21 AT 87

I thought you would like a follow-up on your interview with Buz Glass from a few months ago. Buz just bought a new-to-him Freedom 21. He explained to me that since he was getting a little older, he thought he should downsize from his Cal 25.

Buz is 87 years young. He's still out there sailing whenever he can. The Freedom has a spinnaker, too.

William J. Grummel
Harbormaster, Discovery Bay Yacht Harbor


Having had some spare time, I caught up on some of Latitude's 'wisdom' for Father's Day. I noticed you have some old, but incomplete, wisdom posted: "The two happiest days in a boatowner's life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells her." The saying was contributed by Gregory Clausen, who confessed it's been around for a long time.

The reason I say it's incomplete wisdom is that there should be another sentence. "Since these are the two happiest days of boatowners' lives, we should strive to have as many as possible before our lives are complete."

With the purchase of the Cheoy Lee 35 we rechristened Encore in Barra de Navidad at the end of last year, my wife and I have now enjoyed 35 of these 'best boatowner days' in our 46 years of being married. That's 18 boats, not counting dinghies. So far.

I think it is time for Latitude to recognize the sailors who have achieved the level of 'A Month or More of Best Days in Their Lives', dedicated to those of us who are incorrectly assumed by non-sailors to have some sort of disease. We could form a society, but there couldn't be any dues because, as serial boat buyers, most of us couldn't afford them. But if we had meetings, we could start them by introducing ourselves as follows: "Hi, I'm Pat. It's been a couple years since we sold our Marine Trader and said it was going to be our last boat, but we just bought an '81 Cheoy Lee sloop down in Mexico." Maybe we could get some of the guys from the bunch who have owned the same boat for 20+ years to come talk to us.

Included are some shots of Encore during our rechristening party in Barra. That's Carole waving from the cockpit. Another is while the boat is at anchor at Tenacatita Bay while we are testing our waterproof point-and-shoot camera.

Our plan is to be back down on the boat by December, and up into the Sea of Cortez by spring. We should be able to give you an update on the cost of buying and updating an older boat sometime later this year, but so far we are on budget with costs, including radar and autopilot, but way behind on sailing time.

There's another old saying I've messed with. 'So many boats, so little time.'

Pat & Carole McIntosh
Encore, Cheoy Lee 35
Carmichael / Barra de Navidad

Pat and Carole — So far we have the Latitude Circumnavigator's List, for West Coasters who have completed circumnavigations, and the Over 30 Club, for those who have owned the same boat for 30 years or more. We think your idea of a 'Month or More of Best Days in Their Lives' is a brilliant one. People can join your MOMOBDITL club by writing to Latitude, but in order to apply they must include a list of all sailboats over 20 feet that they've bought and sold.

The Wanderer is embarrassed to report that we don't come close to qualifying for MOMOBDITL membership. We've owned and sold an Ericson 27, Bounty 41, Freya 39, Olson 30, Ocean 71, Ericson 35, a Cal 25 and a second Olson 30. That gives us 16 happiest days. Our total increases to 19 happiest days because we now own the Surfin' 63 cat Profligate, our third Olson 30, and a Leopard 45 catamaran. But even if we sold all three of them — which isn't going to happen because Profligate and the last Olson 30 are going to be with us forever — we'd still be stuck at 22. Maybe we'll start paging through the Classy Classifieds.


I was interested to read that the crew of the Islander 36 Starship got 340 miles to the gallon during their crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas.

In 2011, I doublehanded my Beneteau Oceanis 351 Moku pe'a from Hawaii to French Polynesia with my 19-year-old daughter Kara. We spent the full three months allowed in the Societies, plus 17 days each for the sails down and back. It blew hard for the entire trip south, and we only had to power for two hours in the lee of the Big Island, and four hours through the ITCZ. At one-third gallon/hour with my Yanmar 3GM30F, I figure we burned just over two gallons on the 2,400-mile trip. Our wind generator made more juice than we needed, so we never ran the engine to charge batteries.

While in the Societies, we ran the engine to get places when the wind was light, but never for electricity. Once again, the wind generator provided all we needed.

Moku pe'a was designed to be a charter boat, so she holds 100 gallons of water — quite a bit for a 35-footer. We had a water catchment system on deck, but never got a chance to use it as we only had one really rainy day during our time in French Polynesia. Our baths were always saltwater, using Prell or Joy for washing up, then getting a quick freshwater rinse at the end. I can't say how much water we used, but we never got dangerously low. Finding water in the leeward islands was a bit of a hassle. The only place we felt welcome to take it for free was via jerry jug from the spigot at the municipal dock in Haamene Bay on Taha'a.

The ITCZ was even narrower on our way home, and we only powered for two hours in the light stuff. That's less than a gallon of fuel over 2,400 miles — or 2,400 mpg!

We made our Hawaii landfall before sunrise at Kalapana on the Kau Coast of the Big Island so we could watch the lava flow into the sea. Alas, we arrived during one of the few periods when the lava from Kilauea wasn't making it all the way to the ocean. We had a great daysail down the Kau Coast though, and made our formal reentry into the U.S. at Honokahau Harbor in Kona. We ran the engine a bunch getting from South Point on the Big Island back to our home port of Kaneohe on Oahu.

We burned a total of 60 gallons of fuel in the 4.5-month trip.

Bill (Noodle) Leary
Moku pe'a, Beneteau Oceanis 351
Kaneohe Bay, Oahu

Bill — Brilliant! If we were giving out green hats and shirts for minimal fossil fuel and water consumption, you and Kara would get a couple.

By the way, we made an error with regard to Starship. They actually got 640 mpg, not just 340 mpg. But you still hold the record by a — pardon the pun — bunch of miles.


A recent article about Team Oracle quoted Russell Coutts as saying, ". . . this [latest Oracle cat] represents the boat that is going to defend the America's Cup, for America, in America."

What a laugh, as it was said by a Kiwi in charge of a team that has only two Americans onboard. The rest are Kiwis, Aussie, Dutch and Antiguan. This team is about as American as Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant.

The overwhelming number of Kiwis on all teams shows that they are indeed the true leaders of the sport. Whichever team wins, New Zealand is the winner in the end. And well-deserved. I say come and take that Cup home to Auckland where it belongs. Am I disloyal to America? No, but it's a corporate challenge, not a country challenge as it used to be.

By the way, I don't use Oracle software, but I have had a nice flight on Emirates.

Capt. Larry Jacobson

Capt. Larry — While we'd like to see at least half the crews come from the country of the entry, mercenaries have been a big part of the America's Cup for as long as we can remember.

We'll agree that the Kiwis are the leaders of the America's Cup facet of sailing, but when it comes to setting singlehanded and crewed oceanic and circumnavigation records, the Kiwis aren't even a blip on the radar compared to the French. As you probably know, Frenchman Francis Joyon just set yet another great singlehanded transoceanic record, averaging over 26 knots all the way across the Atlantic and averaging more than 27 knots for 24 hours. It's apples and oranges, of course, but in our opinion Francis Joyon is the greatest living sailor.

Your last comment seems snarky. You may not use Oracle software, but enough businesses have liked its products to propel Larry Ellison from having virtually nothing to being the fifth richest person in the world. One who could buy Emirates Airline if the government of Dubai, which owns the airline, ever wanted to sell.


The first couple of letters in the June issue blame Larry Ellison for deciding that the 34th America's Cup should be sailed in massively overpowered 72-ft catamarans. Disgusted, one letter writer invited Ellison to try dancing across the boat while foiling at 40 knots.

But it's my recollection that it was Russell Coutts, not Ellison, who was on the podium for the announcement that AC34 would be sailed in the big cats. I was shocked and never liked the choice.

I have followed Coutts' career for many years, and it's been full of risky decisions. For example, last year we all saw the video of an overaggressive Coutts trying to barge at the starting line of an AC45 World Series race. He was legally shut out by James Spithill, one of his employees, and thus impaled the committee boat with one bow.

Having followed Coutts' career and listened to him over the years — and by the way, I have a framed photo of myself with Coutts and Paul Cayard and others on a match race committee boat some years ago — I think that his engineering background and love of risky promotions made him the person who sold Ellison on the massive monsters.

On the other hand, remember Ellison's famous statement after doing the deadly Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on his maxi Sayonara some years ago that he thought he was going to die. He later told author Bruce Knecht that, from then on, he was going to stick to inshore racing where competitors didn't have to risk their lives to win. Those aren't the words of one who likes to take risks.

After the tragic death of Artemis' Bart Simpson, I didn't hear any public words of sympathy, condolence or guilt from Coutts. I was disappointed.

I hope that any future letter writers to Latitude will invite Coutts rather than Ellison to try dancing across the deck of a foiling AC72.

While I would prefer to remain anonymous, I'm retired from 30 years of yacht racing on the Bay and ocean, with my last boat being a 45-ft racing boat. Prior to that, I spent some years on a yacht club executive race committee, and was chairman of many regattas, including one year as chairperson of the St. Francis YC Big Boat Series.

Call me 'Rose Pearl'
Between race boats

Rose — It would be interesting to know how much input Ellison had in the design parameters of the 72-ft cats. It's just speculation on our part, but we suspect not very much. After all, it seems as though Ellison, who is not an engineer and who doesn't have particularly extensive sailing experience, was paying Coutts the really big bucks for technical expertise and sailing experience. Of course, for all we know, Coutts came up with a more moderate design and Ellison said, "I like what you've come up with, but let's make the wing mast three times bigger for added excitement." And then insisted on it over Coutts' objections. But we doubt it.

Ellison not a risk-taker? You must not know much about the history and evolution of Oracle, and why it is that Ellison owns so much more of Oracle (23.5%) than, for example, Bill Gates does of Microsoft (6.4%).

By the way, having sailed on several multihulls at 35 knots, we'd have no trouble walking from one side of an AC72 while she was foiling at 40 knots. That's when they are really stable. It's when the big cats bear off or jibe that everybody's sphincters pucker up.


As a catamaran sailor for 50 years, I have often thought about the potential for something tragic to happen in this America's Cup, such as what happened to Andrew Simpson of Artemis. Many years ago, Joe Siudzinski, a friend and fellow Shark catamaran sailor, always sailed with a sheath knife strapped to his calf. At the time I thought it melodramatic. But for big cats, with large areas of trampoline and sail, and many lines, a knife strapped to a calf could be a life-saver. I hope multihull sailors will not be shy and think about it. Make our sport safer.

Peter O'Driscoll
Planet Earth

Peter — Since both Artemis and the America's Cup folks have steadfastly refused to divulge exactly how Simpson was killed, we have no idea whether his and the rest of the crew's having knives on them would have helped. In the case of the massively powerful AC72s, much more sophisticated safety equipment than knives is going to be required. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen.


Latitude must have been having seizures after the Artemis tragedy, as prior to the accident you very correctly said that the America's Cup should have been sailed — for several reasons — in trimarans. What a debacle for the entire Bay Area! When will the America's Cup people get some common sense? This is all about the hubris and idiocy of rich guys.

John Boye
Tom Thumb, Havsfidra 25
Brookings, Oregon

John — "Seizures"?

We have favored — and continued to favor — one-design multihulls such as the MOD70s for the America's Cup because: 1) They would be much more affordable and attract much greater participation; and 2) They have proven themselves to be safe crossing oceans at very high speeds as well as inshore. There is nothing about three hulls, of course, that makes trimarans immune to flipping, but the MOD70s are longer, slightly less powerful, and more robustly built than the ORMA 60s that preceded them, and they are certainly less dangerous than the 72s.


As much as I agree with Latitude's advocacy of MOD70 trimarans as the choice for America's Cup vessels, it ignores the history and fundamental reason for the existence of the America's Cup. If the goal were to provide a test of sailing athleticism, the event would be sailed in Aussie 18s. Or if it were to be a test of tactical sailing ability, the choice would be one-design monohulls. No, the America's Cup has always been a contest between billionaires to demonstrate who has 'the longest pole'. And if the result can't be determined by who spends the most money, what is the point?

Richard Elder
Jackson, Wyoming

Richard — It's our understanding that the AC45s and AC72s are a much more severe test of athleticism than the Aussie 18s, and in any event the Aussie 18s don't have the necessary grandeur for what is supposed to be the pinnacle of inshore sailing competition. One-design monohulls might be a better test of tactical sailing ability, but we're going to withhold judgment on that until we hear from the tacticians after the Cup is over.

The America's Cup winner hasn't always been determined by who spends the most money. It wasn't that long ago that it was a battle between mere millionaires instead of billionaires, and the best-funded syndicates didn't always win.


Latitude keeps mentioning the MOD70 class as an option for the America's Cup, but I think you're missing part of the point. Like Formula One car racing, the America's Cup has always been about pushing boat design, engineering and manufacturing to produce the fastest boat under the prevailing guidelines. You're suggesting a one-design race might make for a tighter race, but it would remove one of the most unique and interesting factors of the Cup. Those who really follow the America's Cup don't want another one-design race, because seeing how different teams interpret the rules and design their boats is a main part of the fun. It's what has defined the America's Cup for 165 years.

Seth Hynes
Mill Valley

Seth — Having been born in Berkeley and then attended the Big U during the riotous '60s, we have no problem rebelling against archaic concepts from the days of Millard Fillmore — widely considered to be one of the worst U.S. Presidents ever, which is really saying something. If the America's Cup is truly defined by the design and manufacturing processes, we should have television crews covering naval architects doing CAD designs and watching crews supervising the baking of carbon fiber. It's our view that what most people want — including those who have long followed the America's Cup — is a combination of plenty of competitors and close racing. We're already missing the first half of that equation, and there is no guarantee of the second. After all, one team could dominate as in the last America's Cup, which became a snorefest after the first weather leg.


In the early '60s, Pete Oetking and I participated in the beginning of The International Catamaran Challenge Trophy, which became better known as the Little America's Cup. In those days, we would have 25 to 30 one-of-a-kind hellcat catamarans on a starting line on White Rock Lake in Dallas. Pete and I built some C Class Cats — 25-ft by 14-ft — and went racing in the initial Little America's Cup races. Those were fun days, with Meade Gougeon in his trimaran, Dave and Jerry Hubbard, van Allen Clark and others. We pitchpoled, and broke innumerable rudders, daggerboards, masts and hulls while having the time of our lives.

Thanks to Pete's ice boat experience, and therefore bending spars, hollow spars and the cat rig, we excelled at sailing to weather. However, coming from the flat water of Texas lakes to the open waters of the East Coast introduced us to waves, and we weren't very good in them — or reaching or sailing downwind. But we did learn a good deal about the importance of the apparent wind and the tremendous difference in stability depending on how fast we were sailing. Things like pitchpoling and swinging around the shrouds (which Pete called side-stays) and forestay while on a trapeze helped give us focus. As time went on, the Hubbard boys got serious and began developing solid wing sails. They left us in the metaphoric dust.

But back to stability at slow and high speeds. Given the America's Cup course on San Francisco Bay, which is to windward and back, with restricted room, it's going to present problems. When we rounded the weather mark in our relatively slow C Cats, we tried to maintain speed — Pete called it "getting a snoot full" — by going as fast as we could. We were willing to give some distance to the next mark in order to enable the apparent wind to keep working in our favor. I suspect that these very large AC72s, with their high-aspect-ratio rigs, are only going to be stable at high speeds.

Sailing my Morris 36 Annie out of Brickyard Cove and into the high winds coming through the Gate and onto the proposed course tells me that the high winds are sure to cause severe problems for the AC72s when they don't have the stability advantage of sailing at fantastically high speeds.

Keith Young
Annie, Morris 36
Brickyard Cove, Richmond


In the June issue, Chris Peterson wrote in asking if you knew about any catamaran-specific offshore sail training programs. Your editorial reply indicated that you didn't know of any, other than the short charters you did a few years ago to and from Catalina.

It turns out there is a catamaran offshore sail training program run by Richard Johnson and Jessica Rice Johnson on their Oxford, Maryland-based 62-ft aluminum cat Elcie.

Based on looks, Richard could be John Neal's twin brother (John of the Mahina Tiare sail training programs that he and Amanda Swan-Neal have been doing for decades). In fact, Richard was the best man at John and Amanda's wedding.

Elcie is cruising across the South Pacific right now, and the Johnsons' website is

Steven D. Gloor
San Diego

Steven — Thanks for the heads-up, as we weren't familiar with Elcie Expeditions. According to their website, the ketch-rigged cat was built in New Zealand in '08-'09, after which she was sailed 10,000 miles around the Southern Ocean and up to the East Coast of the U.S. The cat is currently in French Polynesia on what appears to be her first year of offshore sail training, and will be slowly making her way to Auckland by mid-November. It might be a deal killer for some, but the Johnsons do the offshore training with their two daughters aboard. For details, visit

By the way, while reading the website, we came across the following paragraph: "Elcie has been granted a waiver to the Jones Act, a law prohibiting Coastwise Trade in the United States by foreign-built vessels. Having been built in New Zealand, Elcie was prohibited from carrying passengers in U.S. waters. A three-year waiting period was required for us to make an application. As of April 12, 2012, we are allowed to carry passengers between U.S. ports." Like a lot of legislation in the United States, including the Farm Bill, the Jones Act needs a thorough going over.


I have been pondering a statement from the June issue (page 56), in response to a query about cat training: " . . . our biggest catamaran fear is getting caught with too much main up while sailing off the wind. The problem is that as you round up to get into position to reef the main, the apparent wind increases like crazy, particularly in the 'zone of death' . . . If you round up into the wind in too strong a breeze, the cat could flip."

So what does the cat sailor do when he finds himself with too much main up while sailing off the wind? Perhaps center the boom to avoid a damaging gybe, run downwind, and reef then? Or is there a better way?

Scott Duink
Tropicat, Maine Cat 30
Sarasota, Florida

Scott — Centering the boom is certainly one idea, but the closer to centerline you bring the main, the closer you are to gybing, particularly if there is a seaway to knock you off course periodically. During Steve Fossett's first attempt at the Transatlantic record with the maxi catamaran Playstation, he and his crew got caught with the full main up in 60+ knots of wind. If we remember correctly, they centered the main, the big cat gybed, and some battens were broken in the process. Somehow they managed to get the main down, at which point the crippled boat and the crew — who had been scared poopless — returned to shore.

Reefing would be the best thing, of course, but it's not easy in strong winds as the main is plastered against the rigging when sailing downwind. After being part of a record-setting circumnavigation on a big multihull, Stan Honey told us the technique they used to reef going downwind was to simultaneously lower the halyard a couple of inches at a time while taking up on the downhaul and the clew. Because it requires maintaining high tension on both the halyard and the downhaul while you're lowering the sail, it means you're basically fighting yourself in the process. If you've got a bunch of strong, experienced and fearless crew working with big winches, it might not be so hard in 30 knots of wind. But god help the husband-and-wife crew who have to try it on a 45-ft cat in 45 knots of wind.

Apparently beach cat sailors have a technique where they overtrim the main while sailing downwind, and as they head up into the 'zone of death', ease the mainsheet to counteract the increase in apparent wind. Bruno Peyron told us this was the technique they used on the maxi catamaran Orange's record-setting circumnavigation when they found themselves overpowered by 60-knot winds in the Southern Ocean. We're glad we weren't aboard, and think Bruno wished he'd been somewhere else, too.

The dangers of flipping depend on the cat, of course. Performance cats, even performance cruising cats, are more susceptible than typical eight-person charter cats in the Caribbean — although on rare occasions they have flipped, too. But size matters, too. If memory serves us, multihull designer Chris White wrote that if you double the size of everything on a cat — length, beam, sail area — she will become 16 times more stable. That one sentence was in a large part responsible for our making Profligate as long as we did.

The best thing, of course, is not to get caught with too much main up when sailing off the wind. When we were talking to the Swiss gentleman who bought the first Gunboat 66, he told us that it was his practice to always reef at night in the South Pacific, because most squalls hit at night, and because it's so unpleasant and dangerous to be overpowered.

Jim and Kent Milski, who built their Schionning 49 Sea Level from a kit in Vallejo, and who just got back from a three-year circumnavigation, report they frequently sailed with a double-reefed main. "Most of the time we went just as fast as if we'd had the full main up," they report. The other issue is that with a double reef, they could sail much deeper because the main wasn't getting hung up on the rigging as it did when it was all the way up.

When lifelong sailor Wayne Hendryx of the Brisbane-based Hughes 45 Capricorn Cat sailed to Hawaii from Mexico two summers ago, he put in two or three reefs every night — despite the occasional objections of some of the crew. Once again, it was a matter of not wanting to have to reef when being hit by a 30-knot squall in the middle of the night, and sailing almost as fast anyway. "I don't even have lines led for a first reef, as that doesn't reduce sail enough to make a difference."

And don't think a cat can't get overpowered along the coast of Baja. A few years ago, the owner of a new Southern California-built Morrelli & Melvin ultra-high-performance 62-ft cruising cat got caught in a good breeze somewhere near Cedros with too much sail up. The unbridled cat took off like a bat out of hell. When the owner got to Cabo, he promptly put the $4 million cat up for sale. He'd had enough.

We're not sure if it's because we're getting older or because we're getting smarter, but we plan to do quite a bit more reefing with Profligate than we've done in the past.

If anybody has any other thoughts on the subject, we're all ears.


I have a small criticism. I think the June 10 'Lectronic item about Erin Brockovich's getting arrested for boating under the influence on Lake Mead was too gentle. I encourage Latitude 38 to speak more forcefully about reducing alcohol consumption. When you give advice, but end it with a joke, the message you send is 'getting drunk while sailing is a laughing matter.' It isn't.

Love your publication. Keep up the good work.

Steve Edwards
Cal YC

Steve — We've found that being preachy to adults is counterproductive. But we agree, no matter if you're operating a vehicle on land or a vessel on the water, consuming alcohol while doing it is no laughing matter.


There indeed was a 12 Meter named Soliloquy in Marina del Rey in the 1970s. At least I was told she was a 12 Meter, and she had a big '12' on her main. I wasn't going to argue the point as I was only 15 years old when I first saw her. I crewed aboard Soliloquy in my first Newport to Ensenada Race in 1971, and did the same race on her again three years later.

In October of 1974, we raced Soliloquy in the Cal Coastal Race from San Francisco to Newport Beach. We finished poorly in those races, but we sailed to a clean sweep — first to finish, first in class, and first overall — in the 1974 Del Rey to San Diego Race, beating a lot of well-known yachts including Ragtime. This was quite an achievement because Soliloquy was not a light-air boat, and because there was a high level of partying going on both belowdecks and on deck.

To help Soliloquy move in the light conditions of Southern California, we had both the largest masthead drifter in the land as well as a masthead kite from the great 72-ft ketch Windward Passage.

I recall that Soliloquy pointed very well, something that would be expected of a 12 Meter. But instead of coffee grinders, she had just a pair of Barient 35s for the headsail and a smaller bronze Merriam winch for the enormous mainsail.

The crew in those days was a real cast of characters. It was mostly made up of local hippies, artists, a clarinet player, an auto mechanic, a photographer (me), a banker, bottom cleaners, yacht brokers, printers, farmers, sailmakers — and always the cute girls in little bikinis that just wanted to go for a ride. It was a great experience for me, and I learned a bit about life. Or at least the life I'd like to lead.

Soliloquy was owned by my friend, mentor and local sailmaker Ken Bruns of Venice. Kenny told me that Soliloquy's previous owner was John Lear of Lear Jet fame.

The story I used to hear was that she'd been built in Germany in 1928 alongside her sistership Anitra, which miraculously ended up in Marina del Rey also. What was the chance of that?

Anitra and Soliloquy became rivals, of course, and the crews took it seriously. For example, I remember that the night before the 1974 King Harbor Race we were tied alongside Anitra on an end-tie at Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor. Both crews had been partying all day and night at the yacht club. At some point there was some sort of testosterone-fueled verbal altercation between some of the crews before we headed back to Soliloquy.

When Kenny, a couple of the other crew and I got back to the boat, we sat down in the main salon to enjoy a totally unnecessary nightcap. After a while, we noticed flashing red emergency lights reflecting off the open main salon hatch. When we went on deck to see what was up, we discovered it was the harbor patrol tying onto our port side, with our starboard side not tied to anything! We were adrift not far from the infamous Santa Barbara sandspit. While we couldn't prove it, there was no doubt in our minds that we'd been cast off by Anitra's crew. After all, they were wasted — plus they were still pissed off that we'd beat them a month before in the MDR to San Diego Race.

Those were indeed the days!

I did a couple of beer can races in Marina del Rey in the '70s aboard a green ketch named Shamrock owned by Roy Disney. I believe she was about 45 feet long and had been built by Palmer Johnson. She was berthed at the California YC, and I remember the Mickey Mouse hands on the instrument dials in the nav station.

Gene Prizer
Huntington Beach

Gene — Racing a 12 Meter from San Francisco to Newport? With tiny Barient 35s as headsail winches? The very notion troubles our mind.


Soliloquy was a 12 Meter. My dad and I sailed her in the early 1960s when she was owned by Howard Given. He asked my dad to be sailing master, and that great relationship lasted for several years.

As I remember, Soliloquy was built in Germany in 1928, and at 73 feet was one of the longest 12s ever built. Not all 12s were built for the America's Cup, and Soliloquy certainly was not. Made of double-planked mahogany on oak, she had very nice appointments down below.

Among the regular crew were Los Angeles YC Staff Commodore Chuck Lavington, Dick Park, Gene Park, Bill Grant, Ed Cox and Dave Crocket. We usually had a crew of 12 plus a cook. We would race the Whitney Series against such great yachts of the day as Orient, Landfall, Kialoa II, Escapade, Audacious, the 10 Meters Branta, Brailia, Sirius and Hilaria, and the schooner Serena.

One year we set the record for going around Catalina in the Brokaw Race, which started from inside L.A. Harbor. We did it in 12 hours and 15 minutes. Two years later the record was broken by Blackfin.

I was about 14 at the time and, as Ed Cox called me, 'Navagoosh'. In those days we navigated the island races by dead reckoning, a hand-bearing compass, a Swoffer log and the occasional RDF line of position.

I last saw Soliloquy in Marina del Rey years ago. Someone had cut away her beautiful overhanging transom in favor of an ugly reversed transom.

P.S. Thanks for remembering my dad. By the way, do you know where Soliloquy is now?

Jim Wallace
Marine Surveyor
Long Beach


In the June issue, Ed and Connie Quesada wondered about the fate of the 12 Meter Soliloquy and Roy Disney's ketch Shamrock. During my tenure working at Sails Unlimited in the '80s, I became associated with one boat, if not both.

Working alongside me at the now-long-defunct Sails Unlimited was Ken Bruns, then well-known to Marina del Rey sailors as the former owner of Bruns Sails. Years later Ken told me that the IRS had padlocked his sailmaking business and his 12 Meter Soliloquy for back taxes. Explaining that he had been desperate, Ken cut the locks off and sailed the heavily loaded Soliloquy to Australia.

After a few years Down Under, rot got the best of 'Quy', the nickname we'd given her. After parting her out, the only valuable thing remaining on the old girl was her keel. As Ken told me, the best way to remove the keel from the boat was to blow the boat up. Ken proudly showed me two photos. The first was of the graceful Soliloquy lying on her side on a flatbed trailer in a field. The second was a photo of a sky full of lumber shards and smoke. He really did blow up the boat!

As the story goes, while Bruns was melting the remaining lead into pigs, the Aussie feds arrived on scene and the gig was up. Ken, who had by then taken on the alias of Ken Todd, was forced to leave Australia. When he flew to LAX, the authorities were waiting for him at the gate. It was after his stint in jail that I met him.

Regarding the Disney boat, I don't know if it was a Morgan ketch, and I don't know if it was the same boat in question, but Roy Disney ordered sails from us for a green ketch named Shamrock.

Mark Weinberger
Prima, J/33
San Diego


Soliloquy was indeed a 12 Meter — although a rather special one. She was designed by Burgess, Rig & Morgan in New York in 1926, and built by Abeking & Rasmussen in Germany. She and five one-design sisterships were for members of the New York YC. They were never intended to race with other members of the International 12 Meter Class, but rather only among themselves. The 12 Meter class was almost nonexistent in the United States in the 1920s. The six New York YC boats were to draw attention to the class for future development.

Soliloquy was brought to Los Angeles in 1938 by Arthur Stewart. He wanted something a little bigger than the 67-ft yawl Chubasco that was being built in Wilmington for his younger brother W.L. Stewart. At 69 feet, Soliloquy filled the bill very nicely. The Stewart family owned the Union Oil Company of California.

Soliloquy had several other Southern California owners over the years, and raced in various handicap divisions. I had occasion to sail on her in 1964 when she was owned by Howard Given.

As for the S&S-designed yawl Chubasco, later turned into a sloop, she went on to become one of the finest yachts ever produced in Southern California. She still is.

R.C. Keefe
Barient Winch Co / St. Francis YC

R.C. — Thanks to the man who knows just about everything about every significant yacht to have sailed the West Coast, we now know why the 12 Meter Soliloquy is not mentioned in the very long list of International 12 Meters.


I used to race in the Merit 25 fleet, but gave up my boat when the economy tanked. Now I'd like to get back into racing, and am wondering which are the most active racing fleets these days, and if any new production boats appear to have a growing interest. I'd like to stay in the 25-ft range to keep the price of new sails reasonable, but Santana 22s and Moore 24s seem dated.

Douglas Chew

Douglas — Christine Weaver at the Racing Desk reports that the venerable Moore 24 probably has the most active fleet going, with close runners-up in varying sizes being J/105s, Express 27s, Knarrs, Santana 22s and Wylie Wabbits. Of these, the dated but still-going-strong Santana 22 fleet would be the least expensive. For those preferring a bigger racer/cruiser, look into the J/120, Islander 36 or Express 37. Newer designs with growing fleets would include the Open 5.70 and J/70s. While Melges 24s aren't as popular as they once were, there are still races for them and the Melges 20s. The Merit 25 still has a fleet on the Estuary for beer cans and midwinters.


Having just made our first trip up to Petaluma for the Butter & Eggs event, we read the Latitude article on a cruise to Petaluma with interest. Readers with sailboats might be interested in a photo of low tide. The sailboats to the right of the powerboats were stuck until a couple of feet of tide came in. Most of the 40-ft+ boats had their bows sitting on the bottom.

For those who aren't members of a yacht club, there are public restrooms in Petaluma. You just have to stop in a coffee shop and buy an iced tea to make a pit stop.

With a little planning, Petaluma is a great destination.

Mike Smith
Broken Rule, Chris Craft
Glen Cove


Did you see the report that owners of Marin County houseboats and mobile homes paid more than $600,000 in taxes they didn't owe over the last three years? I wonder if it applies to recreational boats as well. The average refund is $850.

A total of 11 Marin county agencies hit the owners of floating homes and manufactured homes with parcel taxes — even though the owners didn't own the parcels. The mistake was caught by the Marin Independent Journal, which asked why, for instance, houseboat residents who rent marina berths should pay parcel taxes on land they don't own, and on which taxes have already been paid by the marina. After all, that's double dipping.

Scott Bauer, acting head of the county library, said library accounting staff inadvertently counted houseboat and mobile home dwellings as parcels, which led to the double-dipping. "People deserve a refund," he said." After a review, it was found that the districts had issued more than 4,600 incorrect bills.

Tom Zinn

Tom — It's our understanding that if you were billed when you should not have been, you've gotten your money back by now. Well, some of it. Billing errors were also made more than three years ago, but the districts are not refunding that money because the statute of limitations has run. Personally, we think government hiding behind a three-year statute of limitations is pitiful.


I'm writing in response to the April 2013 letter titled 'The Police Reviewed the Tapes with Reluctance'. As a member of the anchor-out community in the Oakland/Alameda Estuary, I thought I might respond to your letter and help clear up some of the inaccuracies and misconceptions.

I'm unclear where the letter writer, who asked to remain anonymous, obtained his/her information about the anchor-out community. He/she states, "The oar thief was an anchor-out, a group with too many petty criminals who are allowed to have unregistered boats and dump sewage in the Bay.” He also suggested that 'they', the people and authorities in opposition to anchor-outs, band together and demand action.

Well, ‘they’ have banded together and they call themselves 'The Coalition'. This group includes most of the area marina managers, representatives from the Alameda Police, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, the Oakland Police Department, the Port of Oakland, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the Coast Guard, and members of various fire departments, along with various people I don't know.

All of these folks have banded together to find, fund and implement a solution to the wrecked, abandoned, unsafe and illegally tied-up boats littering the waters. Included in this agenda are the 'boat trash’ — I proudly count myself as one of them — who have the nerve to live on their boats in their — The Coalition's — Estuary. Their reasoning for the wholesale eviction of any and all anchor-outs in the Estuary is the same as found in the misleading and inaccurate statements made by Mr. Withheld.

Another member of our small, besieged anchor-out community managed to contact The Coalition, and we were allowed to attend a meeting. The time they told us the meeting started was in reality the last few minutes of the meeting. But we presented ourselves as legal, registered, responsible boatowners, and asked to open a line of communication to see if there was a way we could work together. We offered several ideas on the subject.

"Why don’t you leave and go somewhere else like Richardson Bay?" was their solution. We mentioned that leaving the Estuary and going anywhere would cost one fellow his job of several years in Alameda. We mentioned that the quarter-mile-plus row to shore would be difficult, if not impossible, for one disabled vet, who is an outpatient at the Oakland VA, as well as for one old lady who is too old and hurting to make the row to and from shore. Neither can afford a tender with an outboard, even if their boats could make it across the Bay in the strong breezes. We also mentioned the cost of living in the Sausalito area, and the problem of when the wind blows boats, not all of them derelicts, ashore by the bunch.

The Coalition is trying to make, fund, and/or find a law that will allow them to run all of us out of the sewer pond that we live in. They call it the 'Oakland Riviera'. One local marina used to hire folks to clean out their slips when showing them. The trash and slicks that collect in the slips every day had a way of putting people off. We anchor-outs play a game here called 'What's Floating By'. A doghouse was the coolest, a pan of used hypodermic needles the grossest.

During the First Lady's visit to nearby Coast Guard Island, we were offered discounted 'sneakaboard' slips for a limited time. We pointed out that trading one possibly illegal situation for a definitely illegal situation that we had to pay for, and that would quickly cost even more money when the ‘special’ price ran out, wouldn't be very smart.

At present, a few friends and I are anchored at the east end of Union Park in the Estuary, not far from Coast Guard Island. We have been boarded and inspected by the Coast Guard — I had zero infractions — and Alameda City Marine Police unit. Any boat not registered was given a ticket. Anyone with wants or warrants — such as my friend Steven had for smoking in the park and not showing up for a court date — was arrested. One or more of the policing agencies make a game of waking us when they run around the Estuary in their boats. They seem to have a propensity for deep wakes just as they go by us, and courteous speeds at other places they motor.

The TV coverage prior to the First Lady's coming to Coast Guard Island to christen the Coast Guard's newest ship was a set-up. Nobody wanted the local 'boat trash' to make a scene or be seen on world television. I sent an email to the President and his wife, but the only result was getting it printed in the Alameda Sun. The television reporter asked questions, then answered them himself. He wouldn't talk to me. I had the best looking and best working boat at the time.

Tim Darraugh, a health-challenged former member of the military, who wasn't looking too good, and whose boat had mast damage, was the one the television reporter talked to. Tim did his best to present our community in a reasonable light, but the reporter edited the piece in such a way as to make us seem like evil drugmakers. This little bit of journalistic license — or as I saw it, deliberate sabotage — caught the attention of the Coast Guard commander, who hadn't even been aware that there was a problem with boats anchored within three feet of his island.

The Alameda Police came in their boats and told us we were committing a misdemeanor in their presence, and could be arrested. Using this threat — according to the official notice from the US Coast Guard, the Security Zone wasn’t in effect for another 36 hours — the police forcibly moved us without proper notice. There were small craft warnings that day and it was raining. But they scoffed when we pointed out the bad weather and difficulty of upping anchor and setting sail in poor weather.

After the police mistakenly told us we could tie up at a marina, the marina manager took one look at the weather and let us claim refuge. (Thank you, sir.) The reasoning the police used for no legal written notice was the fact that they had been coming by and threatening us for a period of a year or more. The police told us they would be back in two or three weeks to give us one ticket or another, and when they got our money they would run us out of the Estuary.

The Coast Guard representative simply asked us what we intended to do about the Security Zone that would be in effect for the First Lady’s visit, and we told him we would be moving the day before the Zone was in effect. It wasn't our intent to cause problems or defy authority.

Nonetheless, we have been repeatedly threatened, given phony illegal tickets, and had notices placed on our boats by the Oakland and Alameda marinas telling us to go away. Our pictures have been taken so many times by so many agencies, marina managers and police forces that we should be paid modeling fees! We have had the police say we are drug addicts and thieves, and now the author of the letter says the same thing.

I've said all that I have to say. But you can use my name as I won't hide. I’m going to the mat on this. I hate bullies. I don’t take from my community — not even scrap. In fact, we have helped folks learn to anchor properly, and given anchors and rode to some who needed them. We have gotten derelicts to the salvor. We saved Kokopelli twice before she foundered, and then arranged for the owner to get her to the salvor rather than a local landlubber speed freak who wanted to strip her for salvage and leave her to break apart. My head and holding tank are well within the law, as is my neighbor’s. My current sailboat — the very old and very used — 1977 Newport 30 MK II Rubyiat is registered and properly displays her CF number.

But please remember, it was one of the marina managers, a Coalition driving force, not the anchor-outs, who was observed by me and others to be shouting "If you want war, then this is war!" at the top of his lungs while gesturing.

Thank you if you read this. Kudos if you print it.

Michael West
Rubyiat, Newport 30
Oakland / Alameda Estuary

Michael — You write that The Coalition "has banded together to find, fund and implement a solution to the wrecked, abandoned, unsafe and illegally tied up boats littering the waters." With all due respect, what's wrong with that? Isn't that their responsibility?

Philosophically, we've always been favorably inclined toward anchor-outs. The problem — if we can speak frankly — is that too many anchor-out communities in California become crime centers, where too many members think the act of living on a boat means that they are above all laws. If anchor-out communities in California weren't such frequent problem areas — they aren't in many cruising areas of the world — we think law enforcement agencies would ignore them.


In September of last year, a 25- to 30-ft sailboat went on the rocks on the Alameda side of the Oakland Estuary. She's still there. On April 26 of this year, I observed a 26- to 28-ft sailboat on the rocks between the entrance to the Estuary and the entrance to the Naval Air Station. She was still there as of May.

It would be interesting to know how these boats were lost. Surely some Latitude reader knows the story. Similarly it would be interesting to know the full story behind the collision of the sailboat and the tug/barge in January but I have seen no details on how that happened.

Martin Thomas
Kokopelli, Sabre 34


After cruising for six months, we have concluded that the West Coast of the U.S. has nice dinghy docks with cleats; Mexico has decent docks or sand beaches on which to land dinghies; and the Marquesas has ugly concrete wharfs that are dinghy killers.

Until you start cruising, it's hard to appreciate that your dinghy will be used almost constantly. You will use it to go to and from shore and to visit friends on other boats. Without a dinghy, your boat becomes a jail. You will use your dinghy to transport groceries and laundry, sharp and greasy engine parts, and just about everything else you can imagine.

If you're going cruising across the Pacific, you've no doubt spent tens of thousands on the cruising platform that is your boat. But don't be penny-rich and pound-foolish by going cheap and chintzy on your dinghy. If you 'save' money by buying a glorified pool toy instead of a real dinghy, you'll regret it every time you use it!

Before you buy a dinghy, study up on the various brands and what types and fabrics they offer. Not all are made for rugged use. Most manufacturers will offer options to make your inflatable more useful or durable. For example, a second rub rail, lifting or towing eyes, grab handles, under-seat storage, steering consoles and keel guards.

Once you get your dinghy, you might want to consider additions. For instance, dinghy wheels, which are critical for getting dinghies up beaches in Mexico, but aren't much use anywhere else. Or dinghy chaps. If you're going cruising, everything you can do to protect your dinghy's skin is a worthwhile investment.

However, you don't want too many options or additions, because it's also important to keep your dinghy as light as possible, no matter if you're going to deflate it and store it on deck during passages, or if you're going to have it hanging off the back of your boat from davits.

There are many choices in outboards, too. Some cruisers have to have a big enough engine to plane so they can explore all over. Others are happy with a smaller one that doesn't burn as much fuel. Then there's the issue of two-stroke versus four-stroke. Two-strokes are lighter but they burn a third or more as much fuel. Four-strokes are heavier and more complicated if repairs are needed.

No matter what kind or size of outboard you have, it must be reliable. If it doesn't start easily every time, either have it serviced until it does start easily or get rid of it. No cruiser wants to carry around an outboard-shaped pile of rust. Remember that your significant other must be able to start the outboard easily, too. If she can't, you're not going to have a happy ship.

Just as a patch kit is mandatory for an inflatable, so is a spare parts kit for the outboard. You may not know anything about internal combustion engines but local mechanics and other cruisers can do wonders — but only if they have the proper spare parts. And don't forget the oars. Inflatables don't row well, but if you get bad fuel or have some other problem, they are better than nothing.

If you're going cruising, buy quality — you'll be glad you did.

M. Moyer
Cherokee Rose, Alajuela 48
Newport Beach

M. — We couldn't agree with you more about buying a quality inflatable. Don't get one made of cheap material, because if it gets caught under a cement wharf, stuck under someone's windvane, or god knows what else, you want it to have a fighting chance to survive. We've had great luck with Caribs and ABs, but there are other fine brands, too.

We've owned a number of outboards over the years, and found them to be surprisingly reliable. While we've had great luck with Suzukis, Hondas and Nissans, our favorites have been Yamahas, in part because they seem to have the best repair and parts network outside the States.


I saw the letter from the people who say they were badly misled about the used liferaft they bought from an individual in San Diego before getting ready to set sail across the Pacific.

The enclosed photo shows how we sell used liferafts at Minney's Yacht Surplus in Newport Beach. We pop them open and sell them 'as-is' at give-away prices, with the buyer knowing they may not be returned for any reason.

Ernie Minney
Minney Yacht Surplus
Newport Beach

Ernie — We think you're a brave man to sell used liferafts because, no matter what warnings you give the buyers, if somebody dies there is sure to be a lawyer for the estate who will scream "implied warranty." And that's even if some do-it-yourselfer decides that he/she doesn't need to use a certified repacker to put the raft back together.

Mind you, not that we have anything against the concept of used liferafts. Profligate carries one that we purchased used from one of the largest liferaft retailers.


I just wanted to weigh in on subject of white boat interiors and LEDs. First, I changed all my boat lights over to LED. Wow, what a difference! More light from less power.

I also removed all the interior wood and carpet when I rebuilt my Cal 2-27 Carmela, and replaced it with stuccoed overhead and walls. As a result, my boat feels like an apartment down below. When we did last year's SoCal Ta-Ta, we had six people aboard. Thanks to the stucco, no one felt claustrophobic, and when the Champagne corks flew at night, it was easy to clean the painted interior.

For those who are interested, I purchased Carmela for $500 and spent $4,000 to completely strip the interior and make her into a comfortable cruiser. She has over six feet of headroom below, a full head, a v-berth and a large living area with a full dining table. My personal favorite is the small but complete apartment-sized galley.

I removed the inboard engine and related wiring and stuff to make an already large interior even larger. A lot of overbuilt construction techniques went into this boat to make it very bluewater-capable. For example, I quadruple-stayed the mast on both sides and triple-stayed the mast to the transom, triple-stayed at the stern, and double-stayed the mast to the bow. The result is that no one wire failure can bring the mast down. I added thru-bolted grab rails on the inside and topside. I also built a watertight bulkhead that seals off the rudder from the rest of the boat in case it's broken off. And, yeah, I've got an ugly 150-quart cooler full of food and beverages on a platform hanging over the stern. I can feed an army of party-goers.

Readers can check out the interior of Carmela on my blog,

Jean Mondeau
Carmela, 1975 Cal 2-27
San Leandro Marina

Jean — Although it might be detrimental for sailing upwind in chop or sea, the 150-quart cooler hanging off the back is our favorite improvement.

For those who might have missed the announcement, the second SoCal Ta-Ta for Cruisers — from Santa Barbara to Catalina with stops at Santa Cruz Island, Paradise Cove and King Harbor — has been postponed until next summer because of the America's Cup.


I'm interested in taking my Sabre 38 Aegea up to Tomales Bay from San Francisco. According to Bob and Carolyn Mehaffy's Cruising Guide to San Francisco Bay, it should be possible, if timed correctly, to take a deep-draft sailboat into Tomales Bay. But I'd like to hear some more recent accounts. I'd love to hear from fellow Latitude readers who've been there.

John Zeratsky
Aegea, Sabre 38
San Francisco


The San Francisco Station of the Cruising Club of America makes an annual cruise to Tomales Bay, usually in September. The important thing is to enter Tomales Bay on a flood, ideally just before the peak of the flood current when the tide is high. A boat with 6.5-ft draft can make it under those conditions. Under no circumstances should a yacht enter Tomales Bay on an ebb current.

If fog obscures your visibility, back off and go up to Bodega Bay. Be sure you can see the marks at the entrance. One of our members lost his boat on the bar when he allowed an inexperienced helmsman to proceed in the fog and missed the channel.

John E. Sanford
Historian, Cruising Club of America, SAF


We go into Tomales Bay at least once a year, usually in the fall with the Stockton Sailing Club. We hug the peninsula side, and dog-leg out at a spot called the 'rapids' where we see the most shallow water. This year we saw three feet under our five-ft draft on a rising tide. A Hunter 41 that draws seven feet was with us and had no problem.

Normally we anchor at White Gulch, which is a magical place. It has abundant wildlife, including elk, which come down to the water in the morning. This year we moved to Heart's Desire, a Tomales Bay State Park beach with tables and barbecue facilities for a potluck.

Doug, a friend from Bodega Bay, joined us with his boat Pelican, and on the way out of the Bay had us stay right against the peninsula, within 100 feet of shore, and not dog-leg out for the 'rapids'. We didn't see less than seven feet. Doug has been going in and out for close to 25 years.

We only enter the bay in benign conditions. We first look for small fishing boats on the bar. If they are there, we've never had a problem. If they aren't there, we're more cautious, but rarely turn back. One time a wave started to break on the bar when we were leaving, and we can visualize how it could become dangerous fast.

Jim & Julie Focha
Worldwind, Westsail 32

Jim and Julie — Is the channel always in the same place, or does it change from year to year?


There are no pump-out facilities for holding tanks on Tomales Bay, which is home to oyster farms for human consumption. Cruisers should have adequate holding tank capacity for the duration of their visit.

Brian O’Neill
Akvavit, Cheoy Lee 44

Brian — Hog Island Oyster Company still operates on the bay, but the NPS is trying to shut down Drakes Bay Oysters at Drakes Estero. The owners are contesting the ousting, and are waiting on an appellate court ruling. Regardless, nobody should ever flush in a place like Tomales Bay.


We have entered Tomales Bay a number of times aboard our 43-ft cutter, and once we decided against risking it. Entering is more dangerous than leaving, but both require vigilance.

We suggest entering 30 to 45 minutes before high water in the morning before the afternoon breezes have come up. If you touch or ground on a rising tide, chances are better that you can get off safely.

The time we declined to enter, we had made our approach in the afternoon after a swell had come up. As soon as we passed the outer buoy (R2), a big wave began to get steep, so we turned away.

Thick fog is common at Tomales, and it can add to the attractions of the place. But if it's foggy, it's too dangerous to enter. Even radar isn't enough, as it doesn't help you see waves coming from behind. We once left Tomales in the fog, but it was much more risky than if we'd been able to see. If a schedule requires departure at a particular time, it might be better not to enter in the first place, because you don't have to risk leaving under adverse conditions.

According to the authorities at Bodega Harbor, fatalities are relatively common at the Tomales Bay entrance. Most of them appear to be associated with open boats. On the occasion that we left the bay in thick weather, a fellow in an open boat, with one outboard and no compass, approached us out of the fog to ask for the direction to the entrance. We had just crossed the bar and knew that there were three-ft breakers at the time. It was then that we realized why the Tomales Bar can be so dangerous.

The line we have followed has always been mark-to-mark. The latest version of the chart shows the assumed position of a pipe on the bar where there used to be a buoy. Our line leaves the assumed position to starboard by a small margin on entry, but I have never actually seen the pipe. Others prefer to favor the Tomales Peninsula, leaving the assumed position to port. Inside the bay we have always stayed in the main channel, where we have never touched the ground near the time of high water, even on the shoal whose depth is marked at half of our six-foot draft.

Rick Boyce
Paloma, Hans Christian 43
San Francisco


Tomales Bay is one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve coordinated the Stockton Sailing Club’s cruise — a week to 10 days — at least 15 times since my first trip there in 1990. We go in September or early October. I was there in September of 2011 and 2012 aboard a Hunter 34, which I recall draws 5.5 feet.

My strategy has usually been to leave San Francisco Bay at the end of the ebb or the beginning of the flood at the Golden Gate, when that occurs around dawn. That lets me get around Pt. Bonita and up the Bonita Channel before the flood gets serious. I then go straight through to Bodega Bay and overnight at Spud Point Marina. Depending on the wind, I can usually get into Bodega in about 12 hours.

When the Golden Gate tides are as described around sunrise, it means the time you'll want to enter Tomales the next day will be late in the morning. You want to cross the bar at the end of the flood and before the wind comes up. Depending on the height of the tide, you should have about 10 feet or more on the west side of the Tomales Bay entrance.

The charts show something like eight feet over the bar at MLLW, but it is actually somewhat less than that. The deepest section of the bar is to the west along Tomales Point. As you reach the Tomales entrance buoy 'TB', you get a pretty good idea of conditions at the bar. Also, if you see fishing boats crossing the bar, that will tell you what to expect as well. The last few times I’ve entered Tomales, it has been a piece of cake. You want to use the same strategy leaving the bay. You’ll have some current to buck as you leave, but not too bad if it’s in the last hour or so of the flood.

One problem is that there is a tide gauge for height at the Tomales entrance, but not for currents, so you have to interpolate.

Peter Hine
Enigma II, Catalina 27


The Wanderer often writes about the three great sailing events in St. Barth — the Bucket, the Voiles and the West Indies Regatta. But he's missing one. In fact, it's the one that has far more sailors wanting to race than there are spots.

My husband Greg and I, who cruised our Morgan Out-Island 41 Scirocco from the West Coast into a hurricane in Florida, recently bought a Formula 18 Nacra Infusion. Nothing like a racing catamaran to spice up a relationship! We keep our 396-lb boat in Redwood City, and have been training on it about four days a week. We get the help of F18 guru Phillip Meredith, who has spent dozens of hours coaching us.

We love the consistently strong winds of San Francisco Bay, but let's face it, it's cold! Come winter, it would be nice to strip off our wetsuits and sail in warmer waters. And let's be honest, I'm jonesing for a cheeseburger in paradise.

It just so happens that from November 18-26, St. Barth will play host to the 6th annual Cata Cup for F18 catamarans. Over half of the 50 entries are former Olympians, world champions, or America's Cup sailors. Competitors include America's Cup Oracle Racing Team coach Darren Bundock, four-time Olympic gold medalist Enrique Figueroa, European world champion and Olympic sailor Carolijn Brouwer, and two-time Olympic medalist and 10-time world champion Mitch Booth.

The other half of the spots go to whoever signs up first, but with quotas for different areas. There will be 10 French teams, 15 non-French European teams, and 20 from the West Indies, Americas and the rest of the world. The nine boats from the U.S. and Canada that are going include three-time North American champion John Casey, who is campaigning to represent the U.S. in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

The demand for spots in the Cata Cup was so great that they were all gone in 8 minutes and 34 seconds! They could have gotten many more entries, of course, but they want the event to be "on a human scale."

Well, guess whose entry was accepted? That's right, ours! Greg and I will be racing against Olympians, world champions and America's Cup sailors.

In 2001, Greg and I met and fell in love on the Baja Ha-Ha. After sailing over 10,000 miles together, we're thrilled to be included in the Cata Cup. We may have jumped in over our heads, but we've pushed our doubts aside and let our excitement take over.

Each entry will be sailing their own boat, so we're going to take down the mast in Redwood City and drive our F18 to Sarasota, Florida, to compete in the F18 National Championships in October. From there, we'll pack our boat on a container and ship it to St. Barth. Three Cata Cup containers leave Europe in October, and in November Cata Cup containers leave from Miami and various ports in the Antilles.

"The loading is the start of the event," says Helen Guilbaud. "The day the containers are opened in St. Barth and everybody is reunited with their F18 is almost touching. When everybody finds their toy, they are so happy."

Each of the four race days will start with breakfast at the race village. Then there will be racing on courses off Baie St. Jean, as well as the mandatory around-the-island race. In the afternoon, everybody has lunch together. After dinner, there will be festivities at Nikki Beach.

Part of the shebang — the hotel, food, rental car, and shipping the boat from Miami to St. Barth and back — is costing us $1,000. Unfortunately, the other half of the shebang is our expense getting the boat and ourselves to Florida and back. But we're sure it's going to be worth it.

If you've got six minutes and want to feel jealous, check out the video from last year's event at By the way, the guy playing the guitar in the blue shirt is the longtime president of St. Barth.

Cherie Sogsti
Redwood City


Good day from Angel Louise in Mahon, the capital of the Spanish Balearic Island of Menorca. We let the oil in our port Yanmar diesel run out — it's long had a slow external leak — while on our way from Sardinia to Menorca. It resulted in a cracked head or block, or perhaps a blown head gasket. Regardless, we found antifreeze mixed with what was left of the oil in the sump. This was not a good thing.

Latitude readers have previously debated the pros and cons of rebuilding diesels versus replacing them with new ones. We'd lost of the use of the starboard engine on the Danube River last summer and ultimately repowered with a new Yanmar in Turkey last fall. But we kept all the old parts from the replaced engine, thinking we could use them when it came time to overhaul the port engine. But we ultimately changed our minds on a doing a rebuild to the port engine. After all, she's a 20-year-old Yanmar 3JH2E with 7,800 hours. In addition to the small oil leak, she's been burning an increasing amount of oil, resulting in smoke and some water pollution.

So after considering all the issues involved — including the cost — Sue and I have reached an agreement with the Mahon Yanmar dealer to buy a new 3JH5E diesel engine (38-hp), which comes with a two-year warranty. It will be identical to the Yanmar 3JH5E engine we purchased last fall for the starboard side. One consideration was that our insurance covers engine damage if the engine is less than 10 years old. Another consideration was that we got the engine at 20% off retail, tax-free, and including the cost of labor.

We make the 30% down payment on the engine tomorrow, at which point it will immediately be shipped from the Yanmar dealer in Barcelona, arriving by the end of the week. Tomorrow we will move Angel Louise to a dock controlled by the engine dealer, where we'll remain until the installation is complete. On Saturday we'll go to the city's commercial docks — which are closed that day — to have a crane offload the old diesel and load the new diesel. By Tuesday of next week, our engine should be installed and certified, allowing us to leave here and continue west across the Med.

We are relieved and happy, and believe the new engine will serve Angel Louise and us for many years to come.

Ed & Sue Kelly
Angel Louise, Catalac 36
Des Moines, Iowa

Ed and Sue — Based on the number of unsuccessful engine rebuilds we've heard about lately, we think matching your other new engine was probably the way to go. And if you have to do it, what better place than Mahon? We don't know who judges these things, but its three-mile by 900-yard wide natural harbor is said to be the second deepest in the world. All we know is that it would be a perfect place to have an Olson 30 for a summer month of intimate harbor exploration.

Looking at the goo from your oil sump reminds us that Mahon is the birthplace of mahonnaise, that combo of egg yolk, oil and vinegar that is as delicious as it is fattening.


In last month's Letters about exploding lead acid batteries, a self-described professional marine electrician said words to the effect that lead-acid batteries look baby-safe by comparison to LiCo batteries, as "Boeing was finding out."

Please. First of all, one would think a "marine electrician" would know the difference between LiFePo battery chemistry used in house service on boats and LiCo chemistry used by Boeing on airplanes. Second, I have 700-amp LiFePo batteries installed and working on my Kelly-Peterson 44. I have dead shorted the same 700-amp cells and found the results to be much tamer than a lead acid battery explosion. LiFePo batteries produce a lot of smoke and a burst — as in expansion — of the PVC case, but no explosion, fire or acid. In fact, the resultant short and reaction didn't even melt the PVC casing of my batteries.

When used with minimum of charge and discharge controls, LiFePo batteries are safer than lead acid batteries and potentially could last 10 times as long. The LiFePo mode of failure is not a catastrophic explosion or fire. However, destroying a few LiFePo cells from overcharging might be considered catastrophic to one's wallet, as the batteries are much more expensive than lead acid.

Dwain Lentz
Dancy, Kelly Peterson 44
San Diego


I’ve had two batteries explode at two different times. Both were large 8-volt Interstate batteries used in our 32-volt starting systems. Each time, the explosions occurred when I hit the starter button. Both batteries blew apart from internal issues set off by the current draw. I don't believe ventilation was an issue, as the batteries blew their tops off and didn't damage anything around them — such as the other seven batteries. The exploding batteries were well-contained by the ¾-inch plywood battery box top.

The 8-volt batteries in the 32-volt system need watering about every three weeks, which is roughly four times the rate of the 8D 12-volt house batteries charged by an ancient Lewco charger. I believe that the electrolyte levels were good, but I didn't check them the day of the explosions. I have since put the 32-volt charger on a timer to keep it from cooking the batteries.

The upshot is that the explosions have been loud, scary and messy, but not as dangerous as I’d been led to believe.

Dan Akol
Basic Instinct, 58-ft Bertram
Long Beach/Nuevo Vallarta


As a longtime and avid environmentalist, I can say with absolute certainty that I and others are not "skeptical" — as Latitude put it — about the proposed canal across Nicaragua. We are strongly and unequivocally opposed to this proposed destruction of yet another part of our planet.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

Readers — For those who didn't read the June 17 'Lectronic item, the following will bring you up to speed: "The Nicaraguan government has just approved a contract for HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd to build a canal between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The Hong Kong-based investment company says it would take up to 11 years to complete the canal at a cost of more than $40 billion. The canal proposal received astonishingly quick approval from the leftist-controlled National Assembly, dominated by President Daniel Ortega's Sandinista Front. Curiously, no route has been chosen, the investment company has no experience with huge construction projects, and environmentalists and shipping experts are skeptical. No matter which route is chosen, it's expected to be about 130 miles through jungles, lakes and supposedly protected lands, although it will probably also take advantage of (35-mile-wide) Lake Nicaragua and/or the Rio San Juan. Panama's Canal is about 42 miles long."

Jeff — While there are Nicaraguans who are against the canal project for environmental reasons, many Nicaraguans are in favor because they are very poor and need jobs. The Sandinista Front likes it because it creates jobs, which will help keep them in power, and because it will rearrange the geopolitical situation in Central America. The Chinese like it because it will give them a strategic stronghold in the Americas. As a general rule, rich and powerful people can afford to be environmentalists, while the very poor are too busy trying to feed their families to consider the long-term effects. Latitude is not in favor of such a canal. Neither is Panama, of course, as no monopoly welcomes competition.


Someone needs to do a reality check about the plan to build a canal across Nicaragua to compete with the Panama Canal.

Panama relies entirely on rainwater to operate their canal. Nicaragua is well to the north of the dominant low pressure area that generates all the water needed to operate the Canal. And if they used the freshwater of Lake Nicaragua to provide water for the proposed canal, it would kill the only freshwater bull sharks in the world.

John Anderton
Vancouver, Washington

John — If a company — as opposed to a government — is going to spend $40 billion on something, they are going to do complete due diligence about whether the project is feasible.

But our first reaction was the same as yours — where are they going to get enough rainwater? It turns out that Nicaragua gets as much rain as Panama, if not more. The Pacific Coast of Nicaragua gets 40 inches a year, Managua gets 45 inches, but the Mosquito Coast gets a staggering 100 to 250 inches a year. Panama City on the Pacific Coast of Panama gets 70 inches a year — the same as Miami — while Colon on the Caribbean Sea gets 129 inches.

Nicaragua, of course, was the original site of the canal that was eventually built through Panama. But then U.S. senators got involved, and decided it was much less trouble to steal a part of Colombia and set up a government that would not only agree to let the U.S. build the Canal but give us a 100-year lease, too.

Feeling that they got screwed — which they did — in 1999, Nicaragua's National Assembly approved a concession for the so-called Ecocanal, which was to reopen the San Juan River — aka 'The Drain' — to commercial barge traffic. In the mid-1800s, tens of thousands of 49ers coming to California for the Gold Rush used Cornelius Vanderbilt's steamboat to go up the San Juan River to and across Lake Nicaragua to within just a few miles of the Pacific Coast. The last few miles were completed on Vanderbilt's stagecoaches. To the best of our knowledge, the Ecocanal was a flop.



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